ST. LOUIS — Bryson DeChambeau said that he “swung out of [his] shoes” in winning the PGA Championship’s Long Drive Competition on Tuesday at Bellerive. His ball traveled 331 yards off the 10th tee, and nobody hit a longer tee shot. The $25,000 that DeChambeau received from the PGA of America to dole out to charity will travel much, much farther.
He is sending it to Australia, earmarked for Jarrod Lyle and his family.
Hours after DeChambeau made this announcement at Bellerive, Lyle, who three times had fought cancer, died at his home in Australia. He was 36 years old.
Lyle played in 121 events on the PGA Tour from 2006-16 and twice won on the Web.com Tour. He was diagnosed with leukemia as a youth and twice believed he had cancer beaten. But it returned last summer, and Lyle and his family had endured some tough months. Last week, doctors told Lyle and his family that they no longer could strive for “a positive outcome.” Lyle decided to end his cancer treatment, leaving the hospital.
“My heart breaks as I type this message,” Bri Lyle wrote on Jarrod’s Facebook page last week. “Earlier today Jarrod made the decision to stop active treatment and begin palliative care. He has given everything that he’s got to give, and his poor body cannot take anymore.”
On Wednesday, Jarrod Lyle's long fight ended.
Bri and Jarrod had two daughters, Lusi and Jemma. DeChambeau, a Californian who turns 25 next month, said he met Lyle when he competed in Australia at the end of 2015. His agent is friends with Lyle, and DeChambeau had followed, and been taken in by, Lyle’s health battle.
“Jarrod Lyle, the story, it’s so sad. His kids are suffering, obviously, as his whole family is,” DeChambeau said. “I just thought it would be the right thing to give it (his $25,000 in charitable winnings) to Lusi and Jemma. They need that more than anything right now.”
DeChambeau was finishing up a practice round at Bellerive, where on Thursday he begins play in the season’s final major. He is entering the prime of his life, yet doesn’t take anything for granted.
“Look, there’s a lot of people struggling in the world right now," he said. "I just thought what Jarrod has battled through is valiant. It’s a tough battle, obviously, and not everybody wins. So hearing his story, three times (being diagnosed with cancer) ... I believe those kids deserve some chance at a better life. They need that. So that’s why I decided to do it.”
After a 30-year absence, the PGA Championship re-introduced the Long Drive Competition during the 2014 PGA Championship played at Valhalla, in Kentucky. In addition to his $25,000, DeChambeau was given a gold money clip for hitting the longest ball. Peter Uihlein finished second, with Tony Finau third.